Sewing Machine Recommendations

Picking a Sewing Machine Sewing Machine Recommendations

This is a very text-heavy post but contains lots of information that I hope you will find useful about purchasing a sewing machine. Before you get started, check out this post which discusses important sewing machine features for quilters.


I am excited to share this sewing machine guide with you! It is a combined effort of your comments (here on the blog and on Instagram), my experience, and lots and lots of research. While I feel like I have been thorough, there are SO MANY options out there that it is impossible to be completely comprehensive. If your machine isn't listed here, that doesn't mean it's not a great machine!


Sewing Machine Post Graphic

Some things to consider

This list is arranged by price point, but just a couple of quick recommendations about buying a machine:

  • No matter how wonderful and reliable your machine is, you will need to have it serviced somewhat regularly and you may encounter issues that require the help of a service center. Buying a machine from a local dealer is a great way to establish a relationship with someone who can help you when you need it. 
  • Consider buying used from a dealer. I bought my machine from a dealer who had used it as a display model in a show and was able to get it for a substantial discount. Buying your sewing machine from a dealer that sells used models may get you more bang for your buck.

Buying a sewing machine - a little different than ordering from amazon

The process of buying a quality sewing machine is going to be a little different than how you normally buy things. This post does not link directly to a place where you can purchase these machines - for the most part, good quality quilt machines need to be purchased from a dealer and are not available at online retailers. If you read an article where all of the recommended machines can be purchased online, I would be a little wary - many brands sell their lower cost models online but not their more premium machines. 
Sewing Machine

Pricing

Compiling all of this information was a little tricky because I had to rely on so many different sources - this is particularly true of prices. Each sewing machine has an MSRP, but most dealers will sell the the machine to you at a significant discount or be willing to throw in accessories, discounted or free future machine service, etc. 

I did my best to find prices for the machine using a combination or manufacturer websites, message boards, and online shops but these are just approximations and the price that most people end up paying may be completely different than what I have listed. You may find that your local dealer has the machines at a higher or lower price.

Sewing Machine Manufacturers

It might be helpful to know that Singer, Pfaff, and Viking are all part of the same company and Janome and Elna are the same company. I love my Janome and it was the most commonly recommended brand when I asked others for recommendations, but there are Elna branded machines that are essentially the same as the Janome models. Elnas are not as common in the US and I had a trickier time finding information about them so there is only one Elna machine on my list, but they are a very good brand.
Sewing Machine

Machines for Quilters

This list is specifically created with quilter's in mind. Features such as a larger harp (or throat) space were given priority and I didn't focus on features that aren't quilting-related (such as a free arm, buttonhole stitches, etc.). There are a couple of straight stitch only machines on this list - these are great for piecing and for quilting but don't have a larger harp space. They are mechanical, non-computerized machines and can sew very quickly - they are known for being workhorses and are a great, reliable choice if you are looking for a machine at a lower price point!

I am relying a lot here on recommendations from fellow quilters since it is impossible for me to thoroughly try all of these machines. A machine that one person loves may not be the right machine for you. I definitely recommend visiting a dealer to try out a machine in person before making a purchase.

Choosing How Much To Spend

Sewing machines can be very expensive. While I know we are all in different financial situations, you will be spending a lot of time with your sewing machine and it is worth investing in something that will suit your needs long term. That does not mean that you need to purchase the most expensive sewing machine out there, but I am not adding very inexpensive machines to this list because I do not think they will give you the pleasant quilting experience that you deserve.

The prices here range from very affordable at $199 to very outside of my price range at $6999. While I love my Janome MC6600P that I paid $1250 for a decade ago, I would be very tempted to upgrade to the Janome M7 if I could afford it. 

Because I think it is important to have a quality sewing machine, the lower priced recommendations are missing some of the nice quilting features like faster speeds and larger harp space, but are solid machines and would make great backup or travel machines if you decide to upgrade at some point.

The Recommendations

Now it is time for the recommendations. I have done my best to try to make sure the information is accurate - if you notice any issues with the table, let me know and I will make the corrections.


Click the image to make it larger.


I hope you find this helpful or that it at least helps guide you in the process of purchasing a new machine. The most important piece of advice I can give you is to buy a machine that suits your needs and your budget.

How did you purchase your machine? Any tips for someone who is looking to buy a new machine?

12 comments

  1. I was a Home Ec. teacher for many years and had a lot of machines to choose from. They all had good points, 1950's Elna could sew carpeting! and had cams for "fancy" stitches, had several Kenmore (made by White Westinghouse) a couple made by unknowns but have come to love my Janome 6500 which I bought (floor model - deep discount) when I was in the middle of finishing a quilt for my daughter's wedding and all my machines went on strike. Yep. I love it. I would love to see a quilting machine (are you listening Janome?) with a 15" x 8" opening - no fancy stitches, just needle up and down, repeat with a reasonable price tag. OH and one more thing better lighting! I have LED string of lights, cute - but it's one more cord to deal with. I also had to be reminded that even if I can't oil my machine - it still needs to be oiled every 1,000 miles (LOL) by a professional who has the tools to do this.
    TIP ONE: Do not bring your money, checkbook, credit card, postage stamps to the store when you want to "try" a machine. Do not shop when you are H.A.L.T. - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Bring some fabric that you would normally sew - spandex, cotton, upholstery. Every machine has it's specialties and limitations. Don't tell your family you want one - this is personal, a marriage made in fabric heaven. Or call me - I love to shop!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love those tips! My Janome is a dream - such a great machine.

      Delete
  2. Having quilted/sewn for 35 years, and bought my machines from dealers only, I definitely do recommend that. When you buy from a dealer, you get expert advice, lessons, repair services, technical support.

    I also worked at a few quilt and a sewing/vacuum store(s) that sold different brands of machines, too many times women (mainly) would come in to het “repaired” a very inexpensive box store purchase, only to find out there was nothing to repair, but because of how the machine was manufactured, inexpensively I’ll say.

    I used to love one brand only, because most of my quilting crowd owned that brand. But, when I started working for other shops and dealers, I realized every brand had their special features. Bottom line, go to a few different dealers, try out as many machines as you can, and buy in your price point with the features you’re looking for. It is an investment, just as a car is. We get many miles sewing, and hopefully enjoy the view along the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is excellent advice. I think it is so important to try out machines and figure out what works for you. Buying from a dealer is very important - they will help you take care of your machine and it is important that it is well taken care of.

      Delete
  3. What a wonderful resource! I inherited my Janome Memory Craft 7500 from my mother 27 years ago, and it's my primary machine. About 15 years ago, she gave me her used Bernina 1260. This past April, she gifted me with a Singer Centennial Edition Featherweight. Obviously, I've never had to research or price machines, and it's going to happen one day. I can't thank you enough for this valuable blog post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! How wonderful that your mother has gifted you with so many great machines!

      Delete
  4. I just purchased the Janome MC 6650. Oh my is it ever wonderful! It goes across seams like butter, no more having to hold the fabric in the front and back to go over a flying geese seam. It has a 10 inch throat space but I would love a less expensive but bigger throat machine just for free motion quilting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a fantastic machine - I"m glad you are enjoying it!

      Delete
  5. I have a Juki TL-2000 and I love, love, love it! It is fast, sturdy, and so consistent. In fact, I am embarrassed and shocked to realize I haven’t had it serviced since I bought it at least six years ago! I bought it from a sweet lady on Craigslist whose husband was treating her to a fancy new machine of her dreams, and I definitely lucked out in that I got it for a song and haven’t had a single problem with it! I really like that it’s all mechanical because it means I can do a lot of the regular maintenance myself and I don’t have to worry about the computer parts acting all prissy and breaking. I did buy a cheapish Brother from Amazon when it was on sale so I can do zigzags and buttonholes every once in a blue moon when I want to! It is miserable to sew on, let me tell you— the tension is fussy and it is so slow it’s like trying to drive a lawnmower on the highway. The upside is, I feel really comfortable teaching my daughter to sew on it because it is so slow (and you can put set the speed manually to super-duper-slow!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is awesome! I have heard wonderful things about that machine.

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete

Powered by Blogger.